I am not much of a history buff, but there are certain people in history that I find myself drawn to learn more about, they have a bit of mysticism to...moreI am not much of a history buff, but there are certain people in history that I find myself drawn to learn more about, they have a bit of mysticism to me that draws me to want to learn more about them: Lincoln, Katherine Hepburn, Reagan, Hilary Clinton, to name a few. It's not so much what they accomplished, or what they stand for, because, as I've already said, I'm not a history buff and other than the broad and well known basics, I actually don't know a lot about them, their times, or their accomplishments.
Reagan is to me one of the oddest ones for me to be drawn to because, of all the people whose history I want to know more of, his one of the ones I know least about to start with. He was the president when I was a child, but I was too young to remember his election and really too young to even remember the major historical events that occurred during his presidency - especially since I don't really pay any attention to that kind of thing on a general basis.
To this end though, reading his diary was perfect (acutally listening to it on audio). What I really wanted to learn about was the man himself: what were his thoughts behind all the big decisions, what makes him the kind of person that people still talk about today, the kind of person that can be an actor and later the president, and in that I was not disappointed.
This diary was certainly very abrupt and basic, even at many times dry. There was not a lot of detail into the historical events of which Reagan discusses and alludes to, it is assumed you know these things, and so much of this went over my head. But, throughout it all, you get a real feel for how very thoughtful and compassionate Reagan was. He was smart, insightful, and certainly a man of convictions. I think this is why I was drawn to want to learn more about him. In today’s political environment, it is a rare and almost unheard of event to find a man who stands by his promises, works to fulfill them, holds his ground even when those closest to him are pushing for him to give in, all because he made a promise he believed in and he intends to fulfill it. This is not an easy accomplishment for anyone, and I imagine it’s especially difficult for the president. He had a way about him that allowed him to deal with people on a personal level, even when facing a political battle. He could relate to his opponents and find ways to accomplish his goal without resulting to brute force. It seemed more important to him to accomplish the goal than to get credit for accomplishing it, and that I think is what made him so successful.
Reagan certainly didn’t get it perfect, and I know there are those out there who feel he botched the job completely, but in reading these diaries, you can see he meant well, and truly gave it his best shot. In this alone, I believe that makes him one of the most successful president’s in American history, and a memorable man. He wasn’t in it for the power and prestiege, he was in it to affect change for the greater good, and at least in my opinion he accomplished that better than many of the president’s that have come before and after him – including the current one.
This is a long book! I had a hard time rating this book because I went through so many ups and downs with it. I loved the first 200 pages, was semi-bo...moreThis is a long book! I had a hard time rating this book because I went through so many ups and downs with it. I loved the first 200 pages, was semi-bored by the next 100 pages, and then it went back and forth from there. Much of why I did not like some of this book had more to do with my own political outlook which is so very different from Hearst's. Hearst is the embodiment of everything I abhor about the news media - he started it. He was the kind of man who created the news (as opposed to just reporting it), decided how the people were going to think by dictating exactly what articles and editorials would be printed, and much of what they were going to say. When there wasn't news, he made it up. There was nothing impartial about Hearst or the papers he owned - they pressed his agenda heavily. For these reasons (and the fact that politics generally bore me and he was a big politician - or tried to be), I struggled through many parts of this book.
However, that said, he was certainly a fascinating man who knew what he wanted and had a strong drive to achieve it. This was a very well researched book - I think Nasaw read the biographies and autobiographies of every peron in any way associated with Hearst, positive or negative, as well as a lot of non-published material in order to write this book. I felt that this was a relatively unbiased account of Hearst's life and I think that Nasaw did a pretty good job presenting Hearst, his life and accomplishments, and his relationships honestly. After reading it, I feel I have a very good feel for who Hearst was, what made him that man, and how others felt about him. This is as complete a biography as I would imagine one to be as it seems that Nasaw read all the others for us and incorporated them into this account.
If you are interested in the history of the media (from one side of spectrum), or curious about the life of W.R. Hearst, this is a great book and I highly recommend it. However, be forewarned that it is very long and can drag in parts. Hearst lived a long life and this book covers everything from before he was born until after his death, personally and professionally. I don't think the whole book will appeal to many, but I think parts of it will appeal to most - you just have to weed through th rest to get to the parts you're most interested in.(less)